Lately every time I turn TV or radio on, the only subject i hear is the subject of our education. Well, it’s about time we address this very important issue and of course I have to stick my 2 cents in.
Before I will go ahead and say what I think about our schools and our teachers I would like to say something about education I received back in my old Communist country.
I already see you skeptical faces, but don’t be too quick to judge and just listen.
School would always starts on September 1st for everyone and it will always ends on June 1st. We never had 12 grades, it was always 10 grades and all the kids starting from 1st grade were in the same building with 10 grade kids. Yes there were separation and different entrances for little kids and until the 4th grade all the “elementary kids” were “protected” form “middle and high schoolers”
We were all wearing uniforms and quite honestly I don’t see anything wrong with it. Kids attention was on a teacher instead of on someones new skinny jeans or new uggs. (just saying…) It was less opportunity for any to bully someone because he or she was not dressed up to “date” or was not popular enough…
By the time we were in 2nd grade we knew multiplication and division tables by heart, by the time we entered 4th grade we had to study geography, biology. In geography we had to study capitals on every county. (I do have to admit that right now I might not remember them all, but I do have a knowledge which continent is any country is located) In 6th grade we were introduced to physics and chemistry, I never remember just one subject: Science. In chemistry class we had to memorize Mendeleev Table ( not very practical in real life, but we still did it). In Russian Language and Literature we had to memorize poems, we read the classics like Pushkin and Gogol, Mark Twain and Hemingway. Starting from the very first grade we had music classes, where we learned about classical composers and their famous pieces. Once in a while we would have to attend theaters to listen to Opera or to watch ballet. (Back then I did not think I needed or even wanted to do it, but now I understand how important it was for our young minds to be exposed to something beautiful like Tchaikovsky “Swan Lake” or ” The Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart ).
Don’t take me wrong , not everything was right and beautiful there. For example we did not study reproductive health, everything we learned about it was from the streets. I don’t know if any of you remember the very first Telebridge between Donohue and Pozner…, it was back in the 80s, right after the Berlin Wall was taken down. The subject was “Sex” and someone from the Russian audience stood and said: Soviet People don’t have Sex!!!!!! Both Pozner and Donohue were speechless. No we did not learn about sex in school and I honestly believe we should have.
We did not have good foreign language classes, non of us could speak English, or German or French, but frankly so as American kids after they graduate from High School. There were still drop-outs, there were still kids who, skip most of the classes, there were kids, who were forced to go to special school, but overall we had a good/solid education, that prepared us for our difficult, socialistic life style.
Let me continue by saying I love this country, but by being here for the last 20 years and being an US citizen I am allowing myself to be critical once in a while, especially on such important subject like our kids education.
When my first son started school we were in the country only for 5 years, so everything was still very fresh…. I was more Russian than American at that point, so just to be honest with you I was surprised that the school started on August 25th and every child came dressed like he was going on the play ground. Moreover no one brought flowers to their teachers (It was a Russian tradition that on the first day of school every child would bring bouquet of flowers to their teachers), my baby boy was the only one with beautiful roses for his teacher. We never made that mistake again, it was no more flowers for teachers from him for the rest of his 12 years of education. …..And then the process of teaching/studying began. Frankly I felt that my child went to school for retarded kids. I am not joking, in first grade he would bring home some pictures, that he needed to color, it was never any math or reading home work…. I could not understand, what was going on. It lasted for about 4 months and I finally went to talk to his teacher. Oh boy , was I dumbfounded! She looked at me like I was crazy, she did not understand why they needed to have home work to begin with, her answer to me was, they are not in college yet, they will be studying hard enough for the rest of their life. I took matters to my own hands and got him a math tutor.
My son was just fine, he went on to finish his elementary, middle and high school education, we never stop tutoring him on math, we took him to see the opera and ballet, we got him the World Map and tought him about different countries and continents. Once again, he turned out just fine (little known fact: first year of college he confessed to me that he is having difficulties with Chemistry and will find a tutor for himself).
10 years later I was ready for my second child to enter wonderful world of American education, but I only thought I was ready……
Right away his kindergarten teacher decided that he has ADD and recommended to put him on the pill. WHAT?!?!?!?!?! I was furious, who made her the doctor? Just because he is more active that other kids does not make him and ADD child. Just to be sure I did take him to see the doctor and he turned out to be a normal child (not that ADD kids aren’t normal). Once again it was no homework, nothing really changed…..
I do have to thank his 2nd grade teacher who actually took the time and understood him as a child, who agreed to meet with him during the Summer of 2007 to get him ready for 3rd grade.
I actually love our school district, but I don’t think it’s acceptable to tell the parents: kids will be taking a test few weeks from now, please make sure they will study with their tutors extra hard. Isn’t this the teachers’ job?…. Maybe I am wrong??….No I am not wrong!!!! . It is the teachers and the parents responsibility to make sure kids study in school, take the homework at home and finish it at home!!!!!!
This time around we started with math tutoring right away (Kumon is a wonderful program, that very much reminds me of Russian methods of teaching), my son hates it, but he knows he has no choice. We also take him to see ballet, he has the same World Map, that my older son used before him…I am also sure he will be fine, just like my older son….
Teachers and parents, the time has come for everybody to open our eyes and see that our system is failing, our kids are failing and we are not doing anything about it. We are the richest country in the world (for now) and we refuse to accept the fact that kids in India, China and Russia are more educated that our American kids. Why is their will to study so much higher than our will?…